Whether you work from a traditional office, home office, your iPhone, or on the road, a VPN is one of the best ways to protect yourself from data breaches on the internet, especially when using public wi-fi networks. But how effective are VPNs, and what’s the best one for you? What are the downsides to using a VPN? Our executive guide will answer all your VPN-related questions — including a few you probably haven’t thought to ask.
What is a VPN?
VPN is an acronym for Virtual Private Network.
The purpose of a VPN is to provide you with security and privacy as you communicate over the internet.
Here’s the problem with the internet: It’s inherently insecure. When the internet was first designed, the priority was to be able to send packets (chunks of data) as reliably as possible. Networking across the country and the world was relatively new, and nodes often went down. Most of the internet’s core protocols (communication methods) were designed to route around failure rather than secure data.
The applications you’re accustomed to using, whether email, web, messaging, Facebook, etc., are all built on top of that Internet Protocol (IP) core. While some standards have developed, not all internet apps are secure. Many still send their information without any security or privacy protection whatsoever.
This leaves any internet user vulnerable to criminals who might steal your banking or credit card information, governments who might want to eavesdrop on their citizens, and other internet users who might want to spy on you for a whole range of nefarious reasons.